Prosecutors in California have filed hate crime and murder charges against a Los Angeles area man who allegedly shot and killed his 29-year-old son for being gay.
Shehada Issa, 69, is accused of gunning down his son Amir with a shotgun on Tuesday outside the family's yellow bungalow in North Hills, a community in the sprawling San Fernando Valley. Issa's wife was also found stabbed to death in the bathroom, and police say an investigation into her death is ongoing. Issa claims he shot his son in self-defense after discovering his wife's body.
Issa has been charged with "wilful, deliberate and premeditated murder," according to a statement from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
"The murder was committed because of the victim's sexual orientation and because of the defendant's perception of that status," the statement said.
Prosecutors said Issa had "allegedly threatened to kill his son on prior occasions because he was gay."
"The suspect made incriminating statements implicating himself in the death of [the son] and was arrested for murder," Detective John Doerbecker told the Los Angeles Daily News. Doerbecker said Issa claimed his son was "armed with a knife, and there was no knife to be found [there]."
"It was a horrible family tragedy," the homicide detective added.
Amir Issa reportedly had a troubled relationship with his family. Police said he had vandalized the family's home in the past, and that his parents were in the process of evicting him. Neighbors told the Daily News that the father and son were often heard arguing loudly, sometimes "screaming at each other."
If convicted, Issa faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is currently being held without bail in Los Angeles. His arraignment is scheduled for April 11 at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in San Fernando.
According to Los Angeles County's most recent data, hate crimes against LGBT individuals increased by 14 percent between 2013 and 2014. Research by the Family Acceptance Project found that 30 percent of families surveyed rejected their child's sexual orientation after they tried to come out.
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